Sir Torrent of Portingale
SIR TORRENT OF PORTINGALE: FOOTNOTES
1 He [the king] took Torrent under his guardianship
2 Most noble in apparel
3 If I were entitled to bear arms
4 He allowed no stone to stand
5 Who dared to desire that battle
6 Unless [the horse] was distressed (?spurred)
7 Then he knew no better plan
8 Torrent moved quickly under his [the giant's] staff
9 Let us be merry before our deaths
10 The king of Provence's son
11 Are shackled in prison together
12 His hooves [were] black as sloe berries
13 If it happens that I may capture [the falcons]
14 Thus [Torrent] gained ground on him
15 Who had destroyed many men
16 Torrent went to the side-board (a table for lower-ranking nobility)
17 To break [my promise to keep an appointed] date I will not
18 With severe and painful wounds
19 I have never seen anyone like him
20 I give you responsibility for it
21 You will not have to pay annual tribute on it
22 [So] that you are there and win your shoes (i.e., prove yourself worthy of knighthood)
23 For [fear of a] beating
24 But that he had done what was right
25 Lines 1235—37: The great lords who were at the feast loved the tale of the squire's [Torrent's] adventures and arranged the competition straight away
26 That it should be held there
27 Treachery, may evil befall it always
28 And give yourself nothing sorrowful (i.e., do not worry)
29 Lines 1694—95: For his own sake he [the king] gave me to him [the giant], / He [the giant] would [accept] nothing else
30 Even if [Torrent] had more lives than one
31 Do not worry about anything
32 But [she ran] into a wilderness
33 With wild and deadly beasts
34 And then he leaves his home
35 His acton (a padded jacket worn underneath chain mail) and his other garments
36 Both of you kiss your father
37 And he could do no good (i.e., he was helpless)
38 To pray for him and his family
SIR TORRENT OF PORTINGALE: EXPLANATORY NOTES
A: Adam edition (EETS, 1887); BT: Bosworth and Toller, Anglo-Saxon Dictionary; C: Manchester, Chetham’s Library MS 8009 (Mun. A.6.31); CT: Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson; H: Halliwell edition (1842); M: Montgomery edition (2008); MED: Middle English Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary.
1—6 God that ys . . . . servyse to ende. Most Middle English romances begin with a benediction or prayer of this sort, often asking God to protect the audience from Satan or sin, and to deliver them to heaven. Torrent also ends with a benediction along similar lines, and the romance concludes with an “Amen” (see lines 2666–71).
7 ye woll lyst; I schall yow tell. Oral formulae such as these occur frequently in Middle English romance. The suggestion of live performance links this romance to the troubadour tradition, and tail-rhyme romances were especially popular amongst minstrels, since the short lines and structured rhyme scheme made the poems easy to memorize and easy for audiences to follow. Oral tags at the beginning of a romance, or at significant transitions in the narrative, where the performer may have paused to take a break, often include calls for attention, silence, or as is the case here, for the audience to stay put. Narratorial prayers, which appear in Torrent, are also suggestive of oral performance. Crosby (“Oral Delivery,” p. 110) says that “the religious beginning and ending” in medieval poetry (in Torrent, lines 1–6 and 2666–71) “may be considered as indications of the intention of oral delivery.” Such indications of orality are not, however, assured evidence that this romance was composed by a minstrel or that it ever existed in oral circulation before it was first written down. By the late fourteenth century oral tags had become such a mainstay of tail-rhyme romance that they could have been included by the author as a matter of convention, or simply to give the impression that the tale was “authentic” and genuinely came out of popular oral culture. Chaucer, for example, includes several oral tags in his parody of tail-rhyme romance, The Tale of Sir Thopas (CT VII[B2]712–14, 833–35, 891–96). For other oral tags in Torrent see, for instance, lines 335–36, 337–39, 513, 1090–91, 1105, 1122, 1125, 2169–71.
12 Rome. The insistence that the story comes from Rome, or that the author’s source is a “boke of Rome,” appears repeatedly in Torrent. The point is to add gravitas to the narrative by inventing an older and reputable source, and to signal the text’s generic affiliations. A (p. 101n1/12) notes that “there is evidently no difference at all between in Rome and in romance,” presumably in reference to the text’s expression of antiquity and exoticism, as clearly Rome is a specific geographic location in the romance (see line 2663). In any case, it is highly unlikely that there is a genuine Latin or Italian source for the story. For other instances of this device, see lines 118, 187, 190, 198, 558, 924, 1926, 2185, and 2663.
18 Tyrrant. The hero’s name, most often spelled “Torrent” or “Torent,” seems to hold no prior significance or history in chivalric literature. The particular spelling (as in line 26, “Torrayne”), provides a rhyme, but the variant is never used again in the romance. In the later Middle Ages a “torrent” was a body of swift and violently flowing water ( MED torenes (n. pl.)), which may be appropriate for Torrent’s character. Trevisa’s 1398 translation of De Proprietatibus Rerum uses the term to describe fast-flowing streams: “Of ryuers beþ two manere kyndes . . . Oon is yclepid [called] a lyuynge ryuer . . . þat oþer manere ryuer hatte [is called] torrens and is a water þat comeþ wiþ a swifte rees and passeth, and hatte torrens for it encresseþ [increases] in grete reyne and fordwyneth [runs dry] in drye wedir” (ed. Seymour, I:654). See M, p. 121–22n18, for further suggestions as to the origins of Torrent’s name, including the Old English verb torendan (BT tó-rendan, “to rend in two, tear in pieces”), and the Portuguese adjective torrente, whose meaning (“torrent, barrage, flood, outburst”) is strikingly similar to the later Middle English torenes.
25 kyng of Portynggall. That is, king Calamond, who is first named at line 1223.
28 fesomnyd. The MED records this line as a lone witness, and speculates a gloss on the phrase “fe somned in his hond”: “gathered fief in his hand, gave in fief.” See MED fesomned and samnen (v.). M speculates that the manuscript gives a garbled form of “fest on (hond),” or “placed in his hand” (p. 124n28).
31 feyer ase flowyr. Proverbial. See Whiting F304. Related similes in Middle English romance compare fair complexions to white horses (see line 456), white swans (see line 759), whale’s bone (see line 794), lilies (see line 1641), and foam (used in Sir Eglamour of Artois, line 26). Milk, paper, and snow are also used.
33 Worthyest in wede. The expression that women, and occasionally men, are “most noble in apparel” appears often in Middle English romance, as in Emaré, Amis and Amiloun, The Knightly Tale of Gologras and Gawain, and Guy of Warwick. Chaucer parodies the phrase as the most tired of clichés in The Tale of Sir Thopas (CT VII[B2]917), but the author of Torrent uses it often as an external sign of nobility. In lines 2397–99 the phrase is used to describe Torrent, and in line 2501 it is used to describe all the “lordys” of the court.
37—39 For love of . . . . gan he take. Central to chivalric practice in romance is the notion that knights should go on adventures for the sake of the ladies they love or parallel ladies they have chosen to champion. A central feature of romance, too, is the trope that knights on a quest or in combat can increase their prowess by thinking about the women they love, and the success of a knight in battle is often attributed to his romantic motivations, as is the case in lines 55–59.
40 tymbyr. A rare metonym for a lance, though other examples survive from the romances Duke Rowland and Sir Otuell of Spain (line 455) and The Wars of Alexander (line 1230), both of which, like Torrent, were likely composed around 1400. See MED timber (n.1), sense 1c. The Torrent-author must have been fond of it, as he uses it again in lines 2351 and 2485.
ovyr-ryde. Presumably refers to running over one’s fallen opponent whilst on horseback, an indication of complete dominance in the joust. According to MED (override (n.)), which gives the definition “?superiority in riding,” this is a unique occurrence of the word.
48 ordurrs. Chivalric orders are highly selective fellowships or societies of knights, and initiation into an order often coincides with one being “dubbed” or made a knight, usually after proving oneself in battle. There were several real-life chivalric orders across Europe during the Middle Ages, such as the Order of the Garter in England and the Order of the Star in France.
55—59 For the love . . . . schalt her wyne. That knights must perform feats of arms to prove themselves worthy of the women they love is one of the most central motivating forces in medieval chivalric fiction, and indeed in heroic literature more broadly. As is the case here, these tests often provide the impetus for narrative action that would appeal to a mixed audience.
73 the kyng for tene wax wode. At this point the cause of the king’s sudden anger remains unclear. Later (lines 786–88), he reveals that Torrent is unworthy of his daughter, and eventually his throne, because of Torrent’s relatively low status as an “erlls sone” (line 787).
75 trew. Treuth is a fundamental principle of medieval chivalry. It encompasses virtues such as honor, fidelity, and integrity. See MED treuth (n.).
79 Greks See. The Mediterranean Sea. In Torrent and related romances such as Sir Eglamour of Artois (lines 257, 894, 1064), Octavian (lines 407, 569), and Sir Isumbras (line 194), the Mediterranean is understood as a boundary (and point of contact) between the East and West, between the Muslim world and the Christian world. See also Hudson, ed. Four Middle English Romances, p. 32n194.
90 He wold fell thee with hys wynde. This allusion to the giant’s size and strength seems to be punning on the word “wynde,” as both breath and a fart (MED wind (n.), senses 4 and 5). Either way, it is intended as a swipe at the young Torrent’s prowess.
95 Samson. Samson was an Old Testament hero known for his extraordinary strength and his ill-fated relationship with the temptress Delilah, who betrayed him by cutting his hair upon discovering that it was the source of his strength. His wondrous story is recounted in Judges 13:24–16:31, and it was well known in the Middle Ages, as an historical account, a typological allegory, and a moral tale.
97 Hys squyerys. As Torrent is not made a knight until lines 1108–19, it is rather odd that he has squires assisting him at this point. In the feudal structure of later medieval military service a squire was a young man who attended upon a knight.
101 Begonmese. It appears as though the scribe did not recognize this unusual proper name, as he seems to have transcribed it as three words: “Be gon mese” (A and M hyphenate the word thus: “Be-gon-mese”), which makes no apparent sense. M speculates that, if the name has any etymological significance, it could mean “evil inhabitant,” from Old French mais “bad, evil, wicked” and Old English bígenga (Middle English beõeng) “inhabitant” (p. 129n101).
112—14 Now God, that . . . . for to have. The narrator’s prayer for Torrent is one of many such interjections in the romance (see lines 587, 683, 865–66, 1047, 2217). A lists these as evidence that the poem may have been written by a monk (pp. xx–xxi), though a narrator’s investments in the adventures of the hero is a staple of late-medieval romance, and the narrator’s prayers and benedictions may have been intended to generate sympathy for the protagonists rather than to make a theological point.
133—41 Torrent on kne . . . . be the Rode. This is the first of Torrent’s many prayers before battle. Their frequency, and their length, have led scholars like Dalrymple to label Torrent a “pious” romance (Language and Piety, p. 101n52). For the other prayers see lines 528–39, 670–73, 693–95, 987–99, 1275–79, 1309–14, 1496–1504, 1540–51, 1564–69, 2223–25, and 2577–85.
147 He swellyd ase dothe the see. Proverbial. See Whiting S113.
167 wed. The giant is punning off of Torrent’s demand for “amends” in line 162. See MED wed (n.), sense 5a (“something paid or yielded up as amends or penalty; ?also, a token of subservience, tribute”), and compare to “wede” in line 615.
181—89 Torrent undyr hys . . . . armys walloyng fast. Knights have a long history of wrestling giants in medieval chivalric literature, going back to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain (c. 1138). Torrent’s fight in this passage corresponds in several details with the fight between Marhalt and a giant in Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur (ed. Field, 1:139–40). Kennedy has suggested that Malory knew Torrent and used it as a source for the episode (“Malory and his English Sources,” pp. 34–39). Kennedy’s view is largely endorsed by Norris, Malory’s Library, pp. 46–49.
228 Schynyng ase crystall clere. Proverbial. See Whiting C594.
237 blowe. Blue; that is, he turned pale out of fear. See MED blóen (v.), sense a, “to become livid or pale,” which cites this line.
276—77 Owt of the . . . by thy tale. The disjunction here suggests that there is perhaps one stanza missing between lines 276 and 277. It seems likely that it would have included Torrent’s account of his journey to the palace, in which he purposefully omits his encounter with the giant.
283—88 for thy gentry . . . . they wrowght. That lions were powerless to harm ladies of genteel birth, or that they must submit themselves to those who remained virgins, seems to have held some folkloric currency in the Middle Ages. Early readers who encountered Torrent in C would have also seen this trope in Bevis of Hampton, another romance in C. This romance makes clear that the heroine, Josian, cannot be harmed by the lions she encounters in a cave because she is a pure virgin (ed. Herzman, Drake, and Salisbury, lines 2390–94). In Octavian (ed. Hudson, lines 349–51) and the Prose Lancelot (ed. Sommer 3:233), the lion refuses to harm the child of a king. In Torrent it is explicitly the lady’s “gentry,” or high birth, that ensures her safety, though virginity might also be implied.
291 lemered ase gold bryght. Proverbial. See Whiting G314.
343—44 of Gales lond, / Elyoner. M hesitantly identifies Gales as Galicia, a medieval kingdom located on the modern-day border between Poland and Ukraine (p. 146n344). M also notes that in the N-Town play Parliament of Hell; Temptation, “Portyngale” and “Galys” are listed together in a catalogue of place names that also includes “Aragon” (ed. Sugano, lines 172–73). A less exotic possibility is that Gales refers to Wales.
347 Berweyne. M speculates that this may refer to French “Burgoyne,” or Burgundy (p. 147n347). A, however, suggests that this line is corrupt in multiple ways (p. 103n13/344). The possible errors in the manuscript make any speculation on the names and places in this stanza dubious at best.
371 thei trussyd the gyantts hed. That Torrent needs a dedicated horse to carry the giant’s head suggests something of the head’s size. Here, as in several other places in the romance, the author makes use of the trophy motif, in which the defeated giant’s head is taken back to court both as evidence of victory and as a gift for the king or for those the giant had previously oppressed. For comparable moments see lines 691–92, 703–04, 723–25, 750–55, 1051–59, and 1750–57. For other examples of decapitation as the trophy motif in Middle English romance, see King Horn ( ed. Herzman, Drake and Salisbury, lines 625–28), Sir Eglamour of Artois (ed. Hudson, lines 298–300, 493–95), and the Alliterative Morte Arthure (ed. Benson, lines 1175–82).
380 a devyll ys hed. “Ys” here is a possessive marker. The disappearance of the Old English genitive -es inflection, as in “se sunu æs cyninges” [the son of the king], led to split possessive constructions in Middle English. The loss of the “e” sound eventually led to the use of an apostrophe in its place, producing the modern English possessive form, e.g., “devil’s head.” Find parallel constructions at lines 440, 449, and 460. See Allen, Genitives in Early English, especially chapters 3 and 4.
390—93 The kyng seyd . . . . joy and blyse. The kiss is a formal greeting intended to display trust and affection. The suggestion seems to be, however, that the king dares not approach Torrent because he is afraid of the lions at Torrent’s side. To put the king at ease, Torrent commands the lions to lie down while they embrace.
412 Perrown. May refer to modern Péronne, in the north of France. M cites Cardim (“Torrent of Portyngale,” p. 120) to note that its appearance suggests Torrent’s indebtedness to Sir Eglamour of Artois. M also notes that Péronne is the site of a thirteenth-century castle located near a mountain, which fits with the reference to it in line 659 (p. 152n415).
425 Yt ys ase glemyrryng ase the glase. Proverbial. See Whiting G125.
426 Thorrow Velond wroght. Velond, or Weyland, was a master blacksmith of Old Norse legend. He was a well-known figure throughout the Middle Ages, mentioned in English literature as early as Beowulf (ed. Klaeber, line 455). Metalwork attributed to his making, particularly weapons, testifies to the close relationship between craft and magic in the period, and the attribution here is meant to suggest the possibility of the sword’s supernatural qualities, as well as its antiquity and rarity.
434 Adolake. Named swords suggest both their uniqueness and their extraordinary quality. A named sword, like a named romance hero, might also have a history and career beyond the adventures of the romance itself, a possibility reinforced by Adolake’s origins in Weyland’s legendary smithy. The most popular named swords in medieval romance and chronicle are King Arthur’s Excalibur and Roland’s Durendal, but there are many others scattered throughout the medieval romance tradition. Unlike Excalibur, however, which Malory glosses as meaning “kutte stele” (ed. Field, 1:51), the name Adolake does not hold any obvious or explicit onomastic significance, or hearken to any traditions beyond the romance. It is also mentioned by name in line 665 (“Adyloke”) and again in line 791 (“Hatheloke”). The Old English æðele means “noble,” (BT æðele (n. and adj.)). The word survived into the Middle English period and still held some currency in the fifteenth century, particularly in romances. For another named sword, see lines 711–16, and the corresponding note to line 716 below.
457 And whyt as the flowyr in med. Proverbial (see Whiting F308), though usually used to describe beautiful women, not horses. See also note to line 31 above.
458 blac ase slo. Proverbial. See Whiting S385.
459—67 have here thys . . . . may I none. As perhaps the most basic requirement of chivalric endeavor, good horses make for excellent gifts in romance (“chivalry” literally meaning “horse-soldiery”). Moreover, the magical aid ascribed to this particular horse — that no man shall die whilst mounted on it — suggests its value beyond the ordinary. This supernatural attribute, however, or any of the consequences thereof, is not mentioned again in the romance. Of course Torrent does not, in fact, die while seated on the horse, but there remains no way of knowing whether this can be chalked up to the horse’s magic or Torrent’s own martial skill. Indeterminacy of this kind, which allows for the population of romances with magical objects but also for characters to achieve feats of arms on their own accord, is part of what Cooper identifies as “magic that doesn’t work” (English Romance in Time, ch. 3). Magic rings are by far the most common gifts women give to their lovers in romance, as seen in lines 2001–06.
477 that was trew ase styll. Proverbial. See Whiting S709.
489 the forrest of Maudelayne. According to a well-known medieval legend, witnessed in the Legenda aurea, Mary Magdalene lived for thirty years in a forest, supposedly in Provence (trans. Ryan, 1:380). The forest is named again in line 505, and in line 737 Torrent describes his adventures as taking place at “Mawdlenys well.” For more on Mary Magdalene see note to line 737 below.
507—09 Berys and apes . . . . And lyons. The forests of medieval romance, even those set in Britain or in western Europe more broadly, are often filled with exotic and dangerous animals. Apes (present only in F.II’s reading of these lines), of course, never inhabited the woodlands of Europe. By the fifteenth century, though, the presence of such dangerous creatures in romance had become a mainstay. One of the earliest romances, the twelfth-century Roman de Thèbes, for example, describes the trials of its hero in exile: Par mi un bois vet chevauchant, / fieres bestes vet encontrant: / gripons, serpanz, guivres, dragons, / lieparz et tygres et lÿons (ed. Raynaud, 1.649–52) [He went riding through a forest, encountering savage beasts there: griffins, serpents, snakes, dragons, leopards, and both tigers and lions] (my translation). By the later Middle Ages, the trope had developed to the point that it was ripe for satirical send-offs, such as with Chaucer’s dainty knight Sir Thopas, who encounters all manner of “wilde bestes,” including bucks and hares (CT VII[B2]755–56). For another encounter with lions and bears in Torrent see lines 1454–56, as well as the note to line 1454 below.
552 On the tayle an hed ther wase. Dragons or serpents with heads at both ends (amphisbaenae) were known to medieval encyclopedists and natural philosophers such as Isidore of Seville (trans. Barney et al., Etymologies, Book XII.iv.20). According to Collins (Symbolism of Animals, p. 162), such creatures were depicted in medieval church carvings, and with the particular representation of the dragon Torrent faces here (lines 552–63), they were likely responses to the imagery of Apocalypse 9:18–19: “And by these three plagues was slain the third part of men, by the fire and by the smoke and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths, and in their tails. For, their tales are like to serpents, and have heads: and with them they hurt.”
553 byrnyd bryght as anny glase. Proverbial. See Whiting G108.
555 schyld. The author, or copyist, apparently forgot what he wrote in lines 525–27 and 549: that Torrent had only his sword to hand.
559 ells. An ell was a unit of measurement commonly used by merchants in the textile industries. Its length varied from country to country, but an English ell was equal to 45 inches (for comparison, a Scotch ell was 37.2 inches and a Flemish ell was 27 inches). Going by the English measurement, then, Torrent cuts off about fifteen feet of the dragon’s tail, which was, according to line 544, originally seven yards, or twenty-one feet, long.
564—75 The gyant seyd . . . . mayster were I. Torrent is a romance more densely populated with giants and dragons than most. It is, moreover, unique amongst surviving Middle English romances in that it establishes what appears to be a master and pet relationship between giants and dragons, both in these lines and with a different giant and two dragons in lines 1588–93. This latter giant, named Weraunt, also has a brother, Cate (see lines 1594–96) — details that work to develop a far more domestic scenario for giants than one might normally expect, especially for one that has been “of the devill be-taught” (line 1653).
582—83 Tyll the day . . . myrre to syng. The author seems to be rather fond of this bucolic tableau. He uses it twice more, with slight variations, at lines 1516–18 and 1860–62.
596 holtts hore. Literally, a dark or gloomy wood, though in Middle English romance the term is frequently used to suggest wildness and danger borne of the unknown. For more on wild places in romance, see Saunders, Forest of Medieval Romance.
610—14 Fellow, so God . . . . yowr wyl be. The use of pronouns in the exchange between Rochense and Torrent’s squire suggest that the giant is assuming the superior social position. Rochense twice uses the familiar pronoun “thow” (lines 611, 612), while the squire uses the formal “yowr” (line 614) after addressing him as “Lord” (line 613).
615 ley a wede. See the note to line 167 above.
618—19 In four quarters . . . uppon a bowe. Those convicted of treason in England were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, a punishment introduced by Edward I in the thirteenth century (Bellamy, Law of Treason, pp. 23–24). To ensure none of the tortures were redundant for the accused, the drawing and quartering took place after the hanging but before death. Quartering was also seen as an effective method of crime prevention in the Middle Ages, as the dismembered parts could be hung up in prominent places as a reminder to others, which is what Rochense does to Torrent’s squire here. However, given that there is nothing especially treasonous about the squire’s quest for a hawk’s nest, and that Rochense’s attack does not seem to have any political motivation, these lines may have been intended to imply the giant’s cannibalism. By quartering the squire and hanging the cuts from a tree branch, he could be simply aging the meat for a more tender and flavorful meal. Cannibalistic giants have a long history in medieval romance, from Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 1130s (ed. Thorpe, The History of the Kings of Britain, pp. 237–41) to Thomas Malory in the 1470s (ed. Field, Le Morte Darthur, 1:154–59).
651—52 He gathyred sum . . . and hys spere. Kennedy cites these lines, as well as lines 685–86 about Torrent’s weaponry, as evidence that Malory drew directly on Torrent for his depiction of Marhalt’s fight with the giant (“Malory and His English Sources,” p. 36).
654—68 Bacward than be . . . . day in fere. Kennedy cites these lines, in which Torrent drives the giant into the water, as evidence that Malory drew directly on Torrent for his depiction of Marhalt’s fight with the giant (“Malory and his English Sources,” p. 36). See also lines 1293–1308, which Kennedy also suggests were a source for Malory.
716 Mownpolyardns. The name of the sword, not the prince. M (p. 171n714–16) suggests a hypothetical etymology of mouen (MED mouen (v.1), senses a and b), and polle (MED polle (n.), sense 1a), combined to possibly mean “cut heads.” Along with Adolake, it is likely one of the two swords of extreme value that Torrent gives to his sons in lines 2657–59. For more on Adolake, and on named swords in romance, see the notes to line 434 above and to lines 790–91 below.
737 Mawdlenys well. While Gospel accounts never represent Mary Magdalene (first named in Mark 15:40) at a well, it is likely that medieval traditions conflated her with the unnamed Samaritan woman whom Jesus encounters at a well in John 4:6–42, among others (Haskins, Mary Magdalen, pp. 5–16). More simply, the ascription could just reference the location of the well in the “forrest of Maudelayne” (see note to line 489 above), a fitting place for encounters with the exotic and the marvelous. The cult of Mary Magdalene was particularly strong in medieval England (as it was in France), with her feast day assigned to a prime midsummer slot: 22 July. By the end of the Middle Ages nearly 200 churches were dedicated to her, along with two colleges, Magdalen (Oxford) and Magdalene (Cambridge), both of which, of course, only admitted men (ed. Reames, Middle English Legends of Women Saints, pp. 51–52).
744 Sen Jame. St. James the Greater, one of Christ’s apostles, was beheaded by Herod. As patron saint of Spain, his body was translated to Santiago de Compostella, where his shrine became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in medieval Europe (Farmer, Dictionary of Saints, p. 256). Given that Calamond has been presented with the severed head of a giant, the oath may not be coincidental. Calamond swears by St. James again in line 788.
753 Sen Myhell. Based on Apocalypse 12:7–9, the archangel Michael is often represented in medieval iconography as slaying a dragon or standing over a dead dragon. As the patron saint of soldiers, he is also frequently represented wielding a banner and a sword. Even though his evocation in the collective utterance of the lords takes the form of an oath, it could be understood as a calculated association intended to suggest Torrent’s worthiness.
756—58 ordeynyd prysts fyve . . . . hym by name. Within medieval Catholic tradition it would have been considered an act of charity to provide for masses to be performed, and prayers said, for the souls of the departed. This practice, it was believed, would help speed souls through the pains of purgatory and quicken their path to Heaven. This is especially important for Torrent’s squire due to the unexpected nature of his death.
759 whyt ase swane. Proverbial. See Whiting S930. See also the note to line 31 above.
775—79 The kyng to . . . . may governe me. The petitionary or advisory role was well established for virtuous women of the period, especially women of the court. Thomas of Chobham, in his thirteenth-century Summa confessorum (ed. Broomfield, 7.2.15), suggests just how far women should go to be good wives to their wayward husbands: Debet enim in cubiculo et inter medios amplexus virum suum blande alloqui, et si durus est et immisericors et oppressor pauperum, debet eum invitare ad misericordiam; si raptor est, debet detestari rapinam; si avarus est, suscitet in eo largitatem [Even in the bedroom, in the midst of their embraces, a wife should speak alluringly to her husband, and if he is hard and unmerciful, and an oppressor of the poor, she should invite him to be merciful; if he is a plunderer, she should denounce plundering; if he is avaricious, she should arouse generosity in him] (trans. Farmer, “Persuasive Voices,” p. 517).
786—88 He seyd . . . by Sen Jame. Compare lines 73–75, and the explanatory note to line 73 above. The king’s disdain for Torrent’s slightly lower social class exposes a widespread concern with matters of genealogy, marriage, primogeniture, and property in medieval romance. See Cooper, English Romance in Time; Maddox, Fictions of Identity; and Crane, Insular Romance.
790—91 Yt ys hys sword . . . Hatheloke ys ys name. See note to line 434 above. The attribution of Torrent’s martial success to his sword, rather than his own prowess, hints at the common romance trope in which heroes are somehow chosen or favored by supernatural chivalric weapons that aid them in their adventures.
794 whyt ase walls bone. C’s reading, “snalls bone,” appears to be a clear corruption, especially since “white as whale’s bone” was a proverbial simile (see Whiting W203) and a common metaphor for describing the complexion of beautiful women in Middle English romance. See the note to line 31 above.
813—15 they went to mas . . . . notts and solemnyté. That Torrent begins his day by going to mass is in keeping with the expectations of Christian chivalry, at least within the world of romance. See the reiteration of this practice in line 2462.
819 syd bord. The meal’s seating plan, with Torrent relegated to a side table with the squires (line 820), indicates his relatively junior or inferior social position as an earl’s son. Near the end of the romance he sits next to the king at the high table (line 2345), signifying his social ascendancy.
847 Calabur. Calabria, a region of southern Italy that forms the toe of the Italian “boot.”
868 Prevyns. Provence, a region of southern France with a coastline on the Mediterranean Sea.
901 squyer. At first glance it seems this would be a simple copyist’s mistake, and that the line should read “sword.” The repetition of “squyer” in line 909, however, suggests that Torrent is using it as a metaphor to mean that the only help he brings with him is his own sword, a sentiment reiterated in line 902: “No man schall with me wend.”
925—26 He wase get . . . on slepe lay. More than once in medieval romance does the devil (or a devil) impregnate human women while they sleep, or while they are otherwise unaware. The progeny of these couplings tend to be monstrous, as with Sir Gowther or Robert the Devil, but the most famous example of this motif is the child, Merlin. In the Vulgate Cycle, Merlin is capable of using his supernatural powers for good, presumably on account of both God’s providence and the piety of his mother, who was a nun (trans. Pickens, Story of Merlin, pp. 50–56).
927 Seynt Adryan. There are several possible candidates for this allusion. The seventh-century scholar and missionary St. Adrian (also called Hadrian), an African monk who accompanied Theodore of Tarsus when he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 669, was widely venerated in England. The location of his tomb in St. Augustine’s Abbey, which was said to be the site of many miracles, made it a convenient stop for the huge number of pilgrims traveling to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St. Thomas Becket. It was also common for English monarchs to either send offerings to his tomb, or deliver them in person, and Henry III ordered two altars to be built to Adrian, one at Westminster and one in Dover Castle. See Webb, Pilgrimage in Medieval England, pp. 131, 284n38. A potentially more tantalizing possibility, however, is the early martyr saint Adrian of Nicomedia (d. 304), whose Life is included in the Legenda aurea (trans. Ryan, 2:160–64), as well as in the Scottish Legendary, c. 1390–1400 (ed. Metcalfe, 2:272–91), and the Gilte Legende from 1438 (ed. Hamer, 2:660–66). Adrian is a soldier who fights for Emperor Maximian, and who converts to Christianity when he witnesses the fortitude of Christians facing torture and execution for their faith. The main part of his legend focuses on his relationship with his wife Natalia. Both are young and beautiful, and both are wholly devoted to each other. After Adrian’s death, Maximian wants to marry off Natalia to another soldier. She manages to escape, however, taking with her one of Adrian’s dismembered hands, which she carries to his tomb in Constantinople, Later, Adrian appears to her in a dream, shortly before she dies, telling her that they will be reunited in death. The unusual emphasis on married love in this legend, along with the heroics of both Adrian and Natalia (especially Adrian’s status as a soldier, his steadfastness during his gruesome tortures, and Natalia’s unfailing support for her husband even after his death) makes for a poignantly ironic allusion in the context of the king’s oath (lines 927–34). In swearing by St. Adrian, the king promises to give his daughter’s hand in marriage if Torrent will stay with the king and let someone else take on the battle with the giant Slochys, a fight that Torrent vows to undertake in order to win the hand of Desonell (lines 825–54).
942—44 Menstrells was them . . . nottis on hyght. The representation of minstrels performing in a court has an air of self-referentiality to it in a romance that itself may have been performed by minstrels, and perhaps even within court settings. See note to lines 7 and 10 above for more on oral tags within the text. For another instance of minstrelsy and performance see lines 2376–78.
970 cyté of Hongryé. M suggests that the author has conflated Calabria and Hungary, perhaps because both had coastlines on the Adriatic Sea. He also notes a possible (though improvable) connection to Zungria, a city “in modern day Calabria . . . which was in existence by 1310 and is located on the coast” (p. 185n986).
986 chafer. MED lists this line as an example of the definition, “any transaction or agreement involving an exchange” (chaffere (n.), sense 2a). But sense 2b, “any kind of dealings of doings; also, unfair dealings” makes more sense in this context.
994 A man schall but onnys dyee. An early example in English of this proverbial expression (the earliest of six citations in Whiting D242). The sentiment likely originates in Hebrews 9:27: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.” The Wycliffite Bible, from the end of the fourteenth century, reads: “And as it is ordeynede to men, onys to die” (ed. Forshall and Madden, p. 495).
1000 spere. “Sword,” perhaps, makes better sense here. Torrent soon tests his spear and shield (line 1001), so it seems most logical that he would want to test his third weapon — his sword — here, rather than testing his spear twice.
1016 berdles gadlyng. A “gadlyng” is a base or low-born fellow, or worse, a scoundrel or a bastard (MED gadeling (n.), sense b). “Beardless” signifies immaturity, and it is nearly always an attack on the fitness of one’s manhood. It is a common insult in medieval romance, as it is in masculine-oriented heroic literature more broadly.
1019 croke. Large crooks are standard weapons for giants in medieval romance, as are huge clubs, staffs the size of tree trunks, and other crude implements appropriate for those who lack the chivalric sophistication of steel swords and armor. The giant Cate, whom Torrent later fights, carries with him two or three “iryn stavis” (line 1247), and his brother, Weraunt, carries a crook greater than twelve feet long (lines 1579–81 and 1654).
1027 The thef had non ey but on. The most famous of one-eyed giants is Polyphemus, one of the Cyclopes, an ancient race of giants from Greek mythology that appears in Book 9 of Homer’s Odyssey (trans. Powell), though it is unclear how many fifteenth-century readers of Torrent would have been familiar with Homer’s epic. The story of the Cyclops would likely have been known in the Middle Ages through Book 3 of Virgil’s Aeneid (trans. West), a Latin text commonly taught in schools. Although Virgil’s poem was not translated into English until 1522, Trevisa’s 1398 translation of De Proprietatibus Rerum includes a physical description of the Cyclopes: “Certeyn bestes . . . beþ y cleped Ciclopes and han þat name for oon of hem haþ but oon yhe, and þat in þe myddel of þe forheed” (quoted in MED Ciclopes (n. pl.), quote b).
1071 I com heder to sech my deth. In other words, the adventure is so dangerous that Torrent expects to die.
1084—89 I yeve yt . . . . God me save. The king is giving Torrent the land free of any homage or feudal dues, and Torrent and his heirs will own it in perpetuity.
1092 Cardove. The scribe’s nearly indistinguishable u and n makes both “Cardon” and “Cardove” plausible readings. If read as Cardon, the town may be identified with Cardona, a town in Catalonia (Cardim, “Torrent of Portyngale,” p. 133). However, M suggests that Cardove is more likely given the rhyme with save (saue in C) in line 1089; thus, Cardove may speculatively be identified with Cordova (modern Cordoba), “a Spanish royal seet until the late fifteenth century” whose castle was “a very riche hold . . . extensively rebuilt in the thirteenth century” (p. 192n1090).
1123—31 On azure . . . . he hym there. Heraldic devices such as these were used to identify knights who would be covered head to foot in armor. The colors azure and gold are often used in romance to indicate true nobility (M, p. 193n1118–28). That Torrent’s shield depicts a golden knight fighting a teeth-bearing dragon gives some suggestion as to how the hero understands himself, or how he wants to be understood by other knights. Torrent’s new armor represents his change in social status, following his (brief) knighting ceremony (lines 1108–19), and the first instance in the romance in which he is given a title — “Sir” Torrent (line 1120). Notably, too, only Torrent and Sir Eglamour of Artois use “molde” to refer to a heraldic field (see MED mold(e (n.1), sense 4), a further indication of Torrent’s indebtedness to Eglamour. For other depictions of heraldry see lines 2172–74, 2254–58, and 2407–11. For a discussion of knighting ceremonies in Middle English romance, see Ackerman, “Knighting Ceremonies.”
1145 In at the hall dur he rade. Knights who enter a king’s hall on horseback often do so in order to set a challenge or instigate adventure in medieval romance, as seen in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, and Chaucer’s Squire’s Tale. The Middle English Sir Perceval of Galles uses this trope to comic effect when Sir Perceval’s mare gets so close to King Arthur that it kisses the king on the forehead (ed. Braswell, lines 493–500).
1182 For tynding of his hond. That is, for fear of Torrent’s strength or prowess, or more literally, for fear of a beating from Torrent’s fist. According to MED tynding (ger.), this is the sole Middle English use of the word. To “tund,” a word that survives from the nineteenth century, is to beat or to thump (OED tund (v.), sense 2).
1192 His squiers habite he had. Torrent is apparently in disguise, given that Desonell does not recognize him (lines 1162–64) and the emperor calls him “squier” (line 1229). Disguise is one of the most popular narrative tropes in Middle English romance, and knights regularly hide their true identities or, at certain points in their narratives, appear unrecognizable, even to those who know them best. Torrent’s motivation for disguising himself as his squire at this point is not especially clear.
1194 couped shone. Slashed shoes, cut for decoration, are often worn by knights in medieval romance. Such a fad is mentioned in Langland’s description of Christ as a chivalric knight in Piers Plowman: “. . . sprakliche he loked, / As is þe kynde of a knyõt þat comeþ to be dubbed, / To geten hym gilte spores on galoches ycouped” (ed. Schmidt, 18.12–14). Such shoes are likely implied in line 1118. See also M, p. 197n1192.
1217 Seynt Gryffen. No trace of a “Saint Griffin” survives from the Middle Ages, or any other time in history for that matter. There also appears to be no saint whose name would have plausibly been confused with “Griffin.” Rather, it seems the reference could be chalked up to an authorial flight of fancy, and a fascination with the marvelous beast that appears in the romance, and after which one character is named. See line 1872 and the corresponding note on griffins, as well as line 2000 and its note on Antony Fice Greffoun.
1226 emperoure of Rome. Kennedy suggests the possibility that Malory was inspired by Torrent to include the king of Portugal in his list of Emperor Lucius’ allies in the Tale of Arthur and Lucius (“Malory and His English Sources,” p. 38).
1247 iryn stavis. A stave is a post or a pole. See OED stave (n.1), sense 2, and MED staf (n.), sense 1c(a). On giants’ weapons see the note to line 1019 above.
1262—71 The gyaunt shyped . . . he cannot ryde. Torrent’s fight with the giant Cate shares many similarities with the battle between Guy and Colbrond in the popular Middle English romance Guy of Warwick. As with Cate, Colbrond refuses to fight on horseback because he is too heavy, a clear sign of his inherent inability to conform to chivalric standards (ed. Zupitza, lines 10590–95). A similar logic operates in the romance Bevis of Hampton, which also survives in C; in this case the giant Ascopard refuses to be baptized because he cannot fit within the baptismal font (ed. Herzman, Drake, and Salisbury, lines 2592–96).
1271 He is so hevy he cannot ryde. Kennedy argues that Malory drew from this line for Marhalt’s fight with the giant in his Morte (“Malory and His Sources,” pp. 36–38).
1274 housell and shrefte. Knights are rarely shown going to confession before a dangerous adventure in romance, with Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (ed. Gollancz, lines 1870–92) being an outlier. The underlying principle is that, in the likely event (from their point of view) that they should die, their absolution would speed them straight to heaven rather than to purgatory. All medieval readers would have learned from a young age that contrite confession and the appropriate performance of penance is essential for the forgiveness of sin, and Torrent’s attention to confession and absolution here (and in lines 1443–44 and 2141), adds support to Dalrymple’s claim that Torrent is a “pious” romance. In contrast, the so-called “penitential” romances — Guy of Warwick, Sir Gowther, Sir Isumbras, and Robert of Cisyle — never feature orthodox confessions in their heroes’ quests for absolution, though Sir Gowther insists that he will seek confession only with the Pope himself (ed. Laskaya and Salisbury, lines 250–52). For more on confession in romance, see Wade, “Confession, Inquisition and Exemplarity.”
1300—05 good cobled stonys . . . . sad and sore. That Torrent throws stones at the giant Cate hearkens to the well-known account of David and Goliath in the Old Testament, though of course David uses a slingshot (1 Samuel 17:48–51). In The Tale of Sir Thopas, Chaucer turns this around for comic effect, having his giant, Olifaunt, hurl stones at the hero Thopas, though in this case even the giant uses a slingshot (CT VII[B2]827–29).
1325 Both the erth and the woman. In other words, Torrent wins both land (half of Aragon, from line 1260) and the right to wed Desonell (promised in line 1218).
1328 Cargon. Cardim suggests this may be the modern city of Carrión de los Condes, in Aragon (“Torrent of Portyngale,” p. 133). M further speculates that it was chosen because it was on the popular pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella (p. lxxix).
1330—32 Archbeshoppes . . . . with gret solempnité. Legally sanctioned separations, be they divorces or annulments, were relatively rare in the Middle Ages. They were normally granted only if it could be shown in court that the spouses were related (i.e., brother and sister, or parent and child), as happens in the Middle English Sir Degaré, when the hero unwittingly marries his own mother (ed. Laskaya and Salisbury, lines 1092–93); if there was evidence of infertility (prostitutes could be used, in court, to provide such evidence); or if there was some sort of legal impediment to the marriage, such as one of the partners being already married to someone else (McCarthy, Marriage in Medieval England, pp. 139–41). In Torrent, “Archbeshoppes” divorce the prince of Aragon and Desonell, and they do so, the text says, according to Church law. Such a display of ecclesiastical legality finds an analogue in the Middle English prose Brut chronicle (c. 1450), which records how “The Archbisshop . . . deuorsed and departed the Duke of Gloucestre and Dame Alianore Cobham, as for matrymony made before betwene theym two” (ed. Brie, 2:480–81). In Torrent, the grounds for separation are never spelled out, though we could be meant to infer that it was allowed because Desonell had earlier been promised to Torrent (lines 55–60), or because her marriage to the prince had not been consummated, or both. Anne of Cleves, who outlived Henry VIII, agreed to an annulment on the grounds that, she claimed, the marriage had not been consummated, though the king argued for the annulment on the basis of her pre-contract of marriage with Francis I, duke of Lorraine (Warnicke, The Marrying of Anne of Cleves, pp. 204–05).
1339 Saint Nycholas de Barr. St. Nicholas of Bari would later become the model for Santa Claus, as he was known for giving unexpected gifts. Nicholas is also the patron saint of sailors, making him a fitting recipient of benefaction in this romance, given all of Torrent’s hazardous seafaring. In various places around Europe Nicholas also happens to be the patron saint of thieves, pawnbrokers, and students.
1356 broke her well. Essentially, Calamond offers Desonell to Torrent as a piece of property for his pleasure. Compare to lines 1324–25, in which women are understood as prizes akin to other forms of property, such as land. See MED brouken (v.), sense 1a (“to have the benefit of (sth.), enjoy; take (one’s) pleasure in (a woman as wife or mistress”), which cites this line, and sense 1b (“to possess (sth.), get, take, keep”).
1366—68 Such gestenyng she . . . . that lady gent. This is typical of the kind of veiled language used to indicate lovemaking in romance.
1398 gold ryngs. Rings as recognition tokens have a long history in medieval romance, going back at least to the twelfth century Anglo-Norman Romance of Horn. On recognition tokens, see Cooper, English Romance in Time, pp. 327–29. The recognition often comes from the design or signet of the ring, though in Torrent it is simply the gold, and the wealth it signifies, that marks out the young children as nobility (Leobertus, lines 1921–25; Antony, lines 1956–62 and 2001–03). The rings are also used at the end of the romance to bring about the long-deferred family reunion (lines 2550–52). Recognition tokens in Middle English romance take other forms as well, from embroidered cloths to gloves to sword-tips. In lines 1827–29 Desonell and her mother tear a silk cloth, each taking half before Desonell is sent out to sea on a rudderless boat. The practice of using two identical objects, or one object split in half, so that only its counterpart will match, is a common technique for creating at least the possibility of a reunion after long periods. London’s Foundling Hospital, or orphanage, established in 1741, allowed mothers to leave such tokens with the children they gave up, and the hospital would only release a child to someone with the corresponding token (Cooper, English Romance in Time, pp. 327–28). Many of these tokens can still be seen in the London Foundling Museum.
1402 sownyng. In the Middle Ages swooning was understood to be a consequence of the physiological effects of either intense grief or overwhelming physical pain. It was not, in the period, connected with weakness or effeminacy, or with misogynistic stereotypes of temporary loss of control or irrationality. Rather, swooning occurs when violent emotion restricts blood, heat, and “vital spirits” from the heart, resulting in a temporary condition that looks like, and is often mistaken for, death. In Torrent Desonell does most of the swooning, though Torrent swoons once, when he hears the news that Desonell and their two infant children had been exiled from Portugal in a rudderless boat (lines 2094–96). Remarkably, when Desonell is actually set adrift, 100 people watching from the beach simultaneously swoon (lines 1830–32). For other instances see lines 1784–85, 2507, and 2616–18. For further discussion of swooning in romance see Weiss, “Modern and Medieval Views on Swooning.”
1423 rode. That is, Torrent and his men anchor their ship along a forested stretch of land and remain aboard for a time. See MED riden (v.), sense 7b, “to ride at anchor, be moored.” This sense of “ride” is now nearly obsolete (see OED ride (v.), senses II.15a and II.16).
1443 shryve. Normally, under canon law, one could confess only to one’s parish priest, but under exceptional circumstances it might still be considered efficacious to confess to one another (“Lay Confession,” Catholic Encyclopedia, 9:94–95). In much the same way, midwives could perform emergency baptisms if it was thought that the newborn’s life was in danger (“Baptism,” Catholic Encyclopedia, 2:270–71). See note to line 1274 above for more on confession in romance.
1452 Brasill. Torrent and his men ride through a forest of Brazil trees, not through a forest in the South American country. In the Middle Ages, Brazil was the name of a mythical island located variously in the Atlantic (M, p. 205n1450), but it was also the name of a reddish-brown wood that came from the East Indian tree Sappan, or the name of the dye produced from this wood, as found in the epilogue to Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale (CT VII[B2]3459). After the discovery of the New World (Brazil was first colonized by Portugal, as it happens), the name gradually transferred to a similar South American wood, and eventually, to the land of Brazil (OED Brazil (n.1), sense 1a). See also MED brasile (n.). The Torrent-author presumably mentions Brazil trees here to conjure up associations with the mythical Atlantic island, so as to amplify the exotic and dangerous setting, as if Norway — where they really are (line 1414) — is not foreign enough.
1454 Lyons and berys. Norway is an unlikely place to encounter lions in the wild, though Norwegian bears are real enough. For more wildlife in Torrent see lines 507–09 and the corresponding note above, 594–605, 1484–86, 1546–47, 1845–47, 2013–21, and 2028–30.
1494 lay. Lays are short narrative songs thought to be originally composed by ancient Bretons and performed with the accompaniment of a harp. In the twelfth century Marie de France wrote twelve lays in Anglo-Norman French, treating matters of courtesy, chivalry, and courtly love. The form proved to be popular in the later Middle Ages, and several survive in Middle English. See, for example, The Middle English Breton Lays, ed. Laskaya and Salisbury. Why the two dragons are singing a lay is a difficult question to answer, just as it is hard to imagine what their lay would be about. Unfortunately, the text gives no firm indication as to whether or not one of the dragons is also playing a harp. A more prosaic reading might gloss “lay” as “field, clearing” (see line 165), and “song” as “roar.” MED singen (v., senses 6 and 7) lists several animals that “sing,” such as donkeys, frogs, and — predictably — various species of birds. Neither the MED nor the OED records this or any other instance of “singing” dragons.
1570—75 A voys was . . . . mede he wyll. Amis and Amiloun, ed. Foster, includes a similar heavenly voice at line 1250.
1578 As bold as any bore. Proverbial. See Whiting B389.
1594—96 To thee I . . . . by full dere. There are other giants in Middle English romance who seek to avenge the deaths of their brothers, including Arrok and Marras in Sir Eglamour, and Moradas, Morgan, Urgan, and Burlond in Sir Tryamour. For more on the familial and domestic aspects of giants in Torrent, see lines 564–75 and the note above.
1600—23 Sir Torent yave . . . . so it ware. The multiple pronouns in this passage occasionally make it difficult to distinguish between Torrent and the giant (named Weraunt in line 1652). The battle begins with Torrent striking Weraunt in the breast with a spear, so that the spear-head is lodged in Weraunt’s chest (lines 1600–05). Weraunt strikes back in kind (1606–08), and when Weraunt’s crook lodges in Torrent, they grapple for control over it, with presumably Weraunt trying to push the crook further and Torrent trying to dislodge it (1609–11). During the struggle the crook breaks, but not before inflicting considerable pain on Torrent (1612–14). But Torrent recovers, snatching away what remains of Weraunt’s crook, along with Weraunt’s shield, and casting them into the water (1615–20). Weraunt then strides into the water and apparently drowns while attempting to recover his weapons (1621–23).
1641 White as lylye floure. Proverbial. See Whiting L285. See also the note to line 31 above.
1652 Weraunt. M (p. 213n1650) notes that the giant’s name is reminiscent of other giants in romances such as Ameraunt (in Guy of Warwick), Olifaunt (in the Tale of Sir Thopas), and Termagaunt (in King of Tars). He also speculates on possible derivations of the name: from Old English wer (“man”) or were (“guardian”), and Old French were ((n.), “involving misfortune”).
1679 Seynt George. St. George was a popular medieval figure, best known for rescuing a lady from a dragon. He has been connected with a huge number of patronages, including — perhaps coincidentally — England, Portugal, and Aragon. He is also the patron saint of knights, crusaders, horsemen, armorers, and archers.
1704 made hell. “Harood hell” is a possible reading and a more conventional expression (see line 1801 and explanatory note below), though C’s witness is perfectly acceptable. A suggests the possibility but allows C’s reading to stand; M emends.
1740 She sought his woundis. Women in romance are often shown to be skilled in the medical sciences, such as Melior in Partonope of Blois, Josian in Bevis of Hampton, and Loospaine in Eger and Grime, among many others. The connection appears to stem from real-life practices. From the twelfth century, women were linked to the healing arts through the legendary figure Trotula, and the medical texts associated with her. See Barratt, ed., Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing.
1762 Fals thevis. Here the king of Norway is addressing the shipmen who had deserted Torrent at lines 1457–62.
1778 Peron. See the note for line 412 above.
1786—87 tokenyng of her . . . . her right syde. A sign that the baby will be a boy. The theory that males are conceived on the right and females on the left has origins in Aristotle, and was translated to the medieval West through the twelfth-century Latin gynecological treatise known as the Trotula (so named because it was supposed to have been written by a woman named Trotula, a gynecologist or midwife from Salerno, who we now believe to have been called Trota, Trotta, or Trocta). It was popular both in Latin and in European vernacular languages, and in the fifteenth century it was translated into Middle English. See Barratt, ed., Knowing of Woman’s Kind in Childing, pp. 5, 46–47 and Green, ed., The Trotula.
1794—96 Therefore thou shalt . . . . for to ride. The king seems to be punning on the word “ride.” OED ride (v.) gives both “Of a ship, etc.: to float or move on the water, to sail, esp. in a buoyant manner” (sense II.13.a), and “To mount a partner or mate for the purpose of sexual intercourse; (also) to have sexual intercourse, esp. when positioned on top” (sense III.20.a).
1801 harood hell. The Harrowing of Hell, a story found only in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, in which Christ descends into hell between his crucifixion and resurrection in order to rescue the righteous dead, was central to stories of the life of Christ in the Middle Ages. Accounts of the Harrowing survive from the Middle Ages in both Latin and vernacular languages, and in England it often found representation on stage. See Tamburr, The Harrowing of Hell in Medieval England.
1807 Right of lond. This may be a reference to “pleading the belly,” a process in English common law whereby pregnant women who were handed the death sentence were permitted to deliver the child before the execution was carried out. Female convicts could make such a plea at least as early as 1387, and it was rendered obsolete in the twentieth century by the Sentence of Death (Expectant Mothers) Act of 1931. See Oldham, “On Pleading the Belly.”
1827 cloth of silke. Desonell and her mother tear the silk cloth in two so that, by matching the two halves, they could recognize each other if they were ever to meet again. For more on recognition tokens see the note to line 1398 above.
1836—38 Rightfull God . . . . may crystened bene. One of Desonell’s chief concerns is the christening of her children, also expressed in lines 1896 and 2076–77. Antony is christened in lines 1995–97, though Leobertus’ christening, if or when it happens, is never mentioned.
1842—47 The wynd rose . . . . wyld bestis were. Rudderless boats have powerful associations in medieval romance, and in medieval Christian tradition more broadly. Typically, they were used as a form of punishment that would result either in exile or, more likely, in death. Whatever happened, however, was entirely in the hands of God, as whoever was in a boat without rudder, sail, or oars had absolutely no control over its direction. If the winds landed the boat on some distant shore, then, it was a result of providence, just as it was equally an act of God’s will if the ship was destroyed in a storm, or if the person in it perished of dehydration or exposure after days at sea. In the several Middle English romances in which central characters are cast adrift in rudderless boats, such as King Horn, Emaré, Sir Eglamour of Artois, and Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale, to name a few, the character’s survival in the face of adversity — often tyranny — is a sign of divine favor. For another manifestation of this trope see lines 2130–50. For a discussion of its history in romance see Cooper, >i
1872 grype. A griffin is a mythical animal with the head and wings of an eagle and the body and hindquarters of a lion. In medieval romance, as (of course) in real life, they are much more commonly represented in heraldic imagery than purported to exist in the real world. In Torrent, however, the griffin is very much real, and its description and behavior accords in several ways with how John Trevisa describes a griffin in his late fourteenth-century translation of De Proprietatibus Rerum: “Þe grype . . . . is strong enemy to hors . . . Þat he takyþ vp þe hors and þe man y-armed . . . . [a]nd grypes kepen þe mounteyns in þe whiche [ben] gemmes [gems] and precious stones” (ed. Seymour, 2:1207). A griffin also abducts a child in Sir Eglamour of Artois (ed. Hudson, lines 827–31), and in Octavian (ed. Hudson, lines 352–60) a griffin abducts both a child and the lioness guarding it. The griffin from which the abducted boy takes his surname, Antony Fice Greffoun (line 2000; see note below), is also mentioned in line 1983, there spelled “greffon.”
1876 Seynt Antony. There are two plausible origins for this character. One is St. Anthony, or Anthony the Great, an Egyptian saint and a prominent leader amongst the desert fathers. His signification here as an “ermet” or hermit is correct, insofar as his biographer, Athanasius of Alexandria, represented him as the first known ascetic who went into the wilderness (Life of Antony, trans. Gregg, pp. 68–72). Athanasius’ biography of Anthony was influential in spreading the concept of monasticism. In any case St. Anthony was certainly not, as noted in line 1972, the son of the king of Greece. The other possibility is St. Anthony of Padua, who was born in Lisbon in 1195, and was much venerated in his country of birth. While also not the son of the king of Greece, he did abandon a wealthy upbringing for his religious calling (Life of St. Anthony, ed. Da Rieti, pp. 14–16). He is also the patron saint of animals, and of finding lost things or people.
1884—86 She sye it . . . . and Seynt John. This pious acceptance of hardship is a particular (though not exclusive) trait of female protagonists in Middle English romance, as seen in Emaré, Le Bone Florence of Rome, Sir Amadace, Sir Gowther, and Sir Isumbras.
2000 Antony Fice Greffoun. The name plays on two Middle English meanings of the word “griffoun.” MED griffoun (n.(1)) is defined as “A Greek,” and MED griffoun (n.(2)) as “The fabulous griffin.” The MED (n.2, sense d) also records a few instances of “Griffin” or “Griffon” as a personal or family name.
2001—04 thou this ryng . . . . in every fight. The ring protects the wearer from injury in combat. In the tail-rhyme romance Ipomadon (also preserved in C) the hero finds similar powers in a precious stone set in a ring: “He towchyd the wounde wyth the ston; / Off bledyng was he stavnchyd sone, / So was the vertu good” (ed. Purdie, lines 8018–20). See the note to lines 459–67 above for more on magical objects, especially those that are never shown to actually work. The ring was one of two originally given as recognition tokens for Torrent’s unborn children (see line 1398).
2009 Her song was welaway! Proverbial. See Whiting S469.
2055 Seynt Katryn. A prose version of the life of St. Katherine survives in C, along with the lives of St. Dorothy and St. Anne (see Introduction, p. 4). In medieval England St. Katherine was perhaps the preeminent exemplar of Christian femininity. She is the patron saint of unmarried women, and it was thought that those who invoked her in their hour of greatest need would have their petitions answered, which likely explains Desonell’s reference to her in these lines.
2063 stede. This is the marvelous horse Desonell gives to Torrent in lines 456–67. See also the corresponding note to these lines above. Here the king of Nazareth makes it clear that he intended it as a wedding gift to her.
2104 row. This is perhaps another of the king’s grim puns. MED rouen (v.1) can mean “To propel a vessel by means of oars or paddles, row” (sense a), and “to swim” (sense d). For his other grim pun, see line 1796 and the note to lines 1794–96 above.
2137—38 shippes of hede . . . and of tree. The ships are built of wood joined with iron clench-nails, similar to what we would call “rivets” today. In some of the larger ships, such as the Grace Dieu of 1418, the clench-nails could be as large as eight or nine inches in length (Friel, Good Ship, p. 72), making it perfectly appropriate to describe them as being made “Of irun and of tree,” given the amount of iron used. In line 1530 the narrator describes a city gate also made “Of irun and eke of tree,” presumably using the same clench-nail technique. The ship “all of tree” (line 2130) would have been less expensive to build, less sturdy, and therefore appropriate for its use as described in lines 2139–50.
2139—40 A bote of . . . of holis it was boryn. There is a sense of poetic justice in condemning the king to the same sentence he had given his daughter. There is another sense, however, in which drilling a rudderless boat full of holes does not give providence much of a fighting chance. See the note to lines 1842–47 above on rudderless boats.
2155—56 Falshode wyll have . . . wyll have evermore. Proverbial. See Whiting F51.
2168 There God was . . . bought and sold. The Holy Land, or more specifically, Jerusalem. The reference is presumably to the story of Judas Iscariot, one of Christ’s disciples who betrays him by agreeing to deliver him to the Sanhedrin in exchange for thirty silver coins (Matthew 26:14–16). The phrase “bought and sold” is also proverbial; see Whiting B637.
2170 he toke armes of Kyng Colomond. Torrent’s motivation for taking Calamond’s coat of arms remains unclear, though it may have something to do with his supplanting of the king. The arms — three silver ships on an azure field — are never mentioned again, and when Torrent’s arms are next described his crest shows “A gyaunt with an hoke in hond” (line 2410), though even that differs from his original coat of arms, which depict a grimacing dragon (lines 1126–28). Torrent’s wearing of Calamond’s coat of arms may also be part of an impulse to disguise (see lines 1192–95 and the note above).
2176 a knight. The poet, or the copyist, seems to have forgotten that in lines 2160–01 Torrent leaves his lands in the care of two knights.
2184 Quarell. This name does not seem to correspond with any known historical city. As M notes, “it is tempting to speculate that the poet has garbled Al-Qahirah, the Arabic name for modern Cairo, which dates from CE 969” (p. 234n2179) though this seems unlikely.
2186 soudan. A sultan is a ruler of a Muslim kingdom, though in Middle English literature the term is rarely used with much precision, aside from signifying someone pagan, powerful, and antagonistic.
2193—95 And tho . . . . ded to be. M notes that such instances of “wholesale slaughter” were common in siege warfare (p. 235n2188–90). Barber observes a similar justification for indiscriminate killing during siege warfare: “if [the inhabitants of a besieged site] remained adamant, the town lay at the besieger’s mercy . . . It is the idea that rapine is a legal remedy for defiance that underlies the incredible cruelties of mediaeval sieges” (Knight and Chivalry, p. 239).
2231 Antioche. Antioch was an ancient Greco-Roman city whose ruins are found near the modern city of Antayka, Turkey. The city was besieged during the First Crusade (1096–99).
2235—37 the seven yere . . . . fill of fyght. At this point Torrent has been fighting Saracens for fifteen years. He besieges the first city for two years (line 2191), the second for six years (line 2208), and the third for seven years (line 2232). Meanwhile, his son Leobertus (along with his other son, of course) has grown old enough to win his spurs.
2298 God, hast thou forsakyn me? This is a particularly audacious line — in terms of its attempt to establish the terms of Torrent’s suffering — in that it imitates the words of Christ on the Cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
2304 wekid lond. MED wikked(e (adj.), sense d, “resulting from or permeated with sin,” cites this line. M notes that this is an “odd epithet for Jerusalem, but by the time of Torrent’s composition Jerusalem had been under the control of the Islamic Mamalukes for around 150 years” (p. 240n2299).
2409 His creste is a noble lond. The meaning of this line is difficult to construe. For A, the line could have been replaced with line 1129 (“The crest, that on his hade shold stond”), but he does not emend (p. 111n2407). As M points out, it is possible that “a noble lond” could be a corruption of “noble a-lond” (i.e., “noble everywhere”) (p. 241n2404). While this is only conjecture, it is probably at least close to the intended meaning of the original line.
2416 Raynes. Cardim (“Torrent of Portyngale,” p. 120) conjectures that Raynes can be identified with modern-day Ramla, which is located on the road to Jerusalem. M (p. 243n2411) notes that it was occupied by the crusaders in the First Crusade, but was recaptured by Saladin in 1187.
2480 Sir Torent stode and beheld. Richardson suggests that this line is drawn from the Thornton MS (Lincoln Cathedral MS 91) version of Sir Eglamour of Artois, in which an anonymous Eglamour likewise watches his sons on the tournament field: “His fadir hovede and byhelde” (line 1234). Given the similarity in context and the possibility of indebtedness, the lines that follow in Sir Eglamour perhaps give some clue as to what happens in Torrent’s missing lines: “His fadir hovede and byhelde / How he fellid in the felde / The knyghtis all bydene. / His sonne hym sawe and rade hym till; / Said, ‘Sir, why houys þou sa stille / Amange thir knyghtis kene?’” (ed. Richardson, lines 1234–39).
2601 Sone. M reads “sone” not as a form of address, but as an adverb (“soon” or “presently”), which is also possible (p. 253n2596). H and A accord with the reading given here.
2657—59 He yave his sonnys . . . . one had they. These two swords are likely Adolake and Mownpolyardns. See the notes to lines 434 and 716 above.
2660 up-tyed. That is, Torrent has the deeds established such that the churches and abbeys he founded could do nothing but pray for his soul and the souls of his heirs (see A, p. 112n92/2658). Alternatively, M notes that “up-tyed” could be derived from “tighten up” (p. 255n2655). MED tighten (v.(2)), sense 2b, gives “to erect (a structure).” In this reading Torrent is therefore simply commissioning the construction of churches and abbeys, rather than restricting their remit to pray for only him and his family. On prayers for the dead see the note to lines 756–58 above.
2663 In Rome this romans berith the crown. A notes that in Eglamour, line 1339, the Lincoln MS reads “In Rome this romance crouned es” and the Cambridge MS reads “In Rome thys geste cronyculd ys.” A then adds: “I am inclined to think that crouned is nothing else but a misreading for cronyculd. Afterwards, considered to be correct, it has originated expressions like those we find here” (p. 112n2261).
2665 He leyth in Rome in a feire abbey. Indicating the real-world location of the hero’s grave is an attempt at generating authenticity for the narrative. The most famous example of this practice can be found in texts that locate King Arthur’s grave at Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset. These include the Alliterative Morte Arthure, John Lydgate’s Fall of Princes, and Caxton’s preface to Malory’s Morte Darthur.
SIR TORRENT OF PORTINGALE: TEXTUAL NOTES
A: Adam edition (EETS, 1887); F.I through F.VII: fragments of early sixteenth-century prints by Richard Pynson (1505?) and Wynkyn de Worde (1510?) which survive in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce E.20; H: Halliwell edition (1842); M: Montgomery edition (2008); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Manchester, Chetham’s Library, MS 8009 (Mun. A.6.31) (c. 1475).
1 God. MS: line begins with a large, five-line rubricated G.
32 Desonell. MS: Dyscenys. See M, p. 125n33, for the possibility that Dyscenyr, like Torrayne at line 26, is a poetic form of Desonell, not a scribal error.
50 see. MS: bee. A and M emend likewise.
63 Yowr. MS: r inserted above the line.
65 a-go. MS: agone, with ne struck out.
75—76 Be trew and . . . me sped ere. This stanza appears to be missing its middle six lines between lines 75 and 76. No doubt this lost passage would indicate to whom they in line 77 refers, as would it likely illuminate a reading of line 78. Because the text of Torrent is incomplete, I will indicate missing lines with ellipses, where a three-point ellipsis indicates a single missing line and a four-point ellipsis indicates multiple missing lines.
contnance. MS: a inserted above the line.
78 chaunce. MS: second c erased.
80 in an yle. So MS, H, M. A reads MS as mauyle, assuming that the scribe erroneously supposed it to be the name of the giant, who is in fact named Begonmese in line 101.
84 No ston lyttethe he stond . . . . The final six lines of this stanza appear to be missing. They likely would have continued the description of how the giant further laid waste to the king’s lands.
85 Terrent. MS: line begins with a large, four-line rubricated T.
86 he. MS: inserted above the line.
88 kyng. MS: knyght. Emendation following A and M.
123 seke. So MS, corrected in lighter ink from an unclear word, which is struck out. A: ches. M: ther.
129 grene. MS: smale. A, H, and M emend likewise.
136 ryght. MS: ryght, lyght, or possibly fyght, written above the line.
171 In. MS: Jesu. It is hard to imagine how the scribe could write Jesu (abbreviated as Ihu with a macron) in this line, and it is suggestive of over-hasty copying, or otherwise mechanical copying without any attention to sense. Emendation following A and M.
175 to hym. MS: inserted above the line.
178 he no better. MS: not he better. A: not he bettur. M: not he bettyr.
181 sprent. MS: spred. Emendation following A and M.
192 brast. MS: Rane. Emendation following A and M; brast is a verb commonly used in romance descriptions of combat, and its fit with the stanza’s other tail-line rhymes suggests the possibility of authenticity.
196—97 And also hys . . . fell that tyd. These lines are transposed in MS.
198 I. MS: he. Emendation following A, H, and M.
As I herd in Rome. A adds an ellipsis following this line to suggest missing text, presumably on account of the two non-rhyming tail-lines that follow. M postulates six missing lines at this point, a new stanza beginning with line 199, and another six missing lines following line 204.
201 gan him warke. MS: he gan warke. A: gan hym quelle. M: he gan warke.
210 Upp bothe hys hands held. Parentheses are used here to indicate that Torrent’s speech continues through line 213. So A. M reads the speech’s conclusion at 209.
214 to. Written above the line in MS.
214-15 Now ys ther . . . fyld that day. Following these lines in MS is a near-duplication: Now ys ther non other say / Of hyme to wyne the fyld þat day. Perhaps the scribe was not sure which reading he preferred, so included both. Emendation following A, H, and M.
219 to se. Written above the line in MS.
236 Crystyn man thow he were. MS: Crystyn thow thow they were. Aside from the problem of duplicated thow, lines 237–40 clearly refer to Torrent, not to the two slain guards, so I have followed the emendation given in A. M: Crystyne thow [that] they were.
241 Torrant. MS: line begins with a large, four-line rubricated T.
244 whalle. MS: corrected with lighter ink from whyle.
245 syghyng. MS: corrected with lighter ink from syngyng.
261 sche gothe anon. MS: anon sche gothe. This is one of several instances where a simple shift of syntax places the rhyming word at the end of the line. A makes these changes, and I follow A’s emendations, considering the likelihood that such transpositions could have been easily made by the MS scribes or by earlier scribes along the line of recension. M: gothe sche a-non.
265—66 Say me now . . . schall me hyght. MS: Say me now, fayer lady, / Who owte of thys plase schall hyght. I follow A’s emendation for the insertion of of in line 266. I have added me to line 266 to restore plausible meaning, and wyght to line 265, a common adjective for ladies of romance (see line 759), to restore consistency in meter and rhyme. A offers different possibilities: Say me now, fayer lady, belyve, / Who owte of thys plase schall me dryve. M offers another possibility: Say me now, fayer lady, right, / Who owte thys plase schall hym hyght.
273 Thy. MS: They. Emendation following A.
276—77 Out of the . . . by thy tale. The discontinuity in the dialogue between Torrent and Desonell suggests a missing stanza between these lines. A likewise posits a missing stanza. Alternatively, however, M suggests that the discontinuity could be mitigated by restoring my in line 277 (see note below), making it possible that MS is complete here (p. 142n277–79). See also the explanatory note for these lines.
277 thy. MS: my erased and thy inserted above the line.
283 thy. MS: corrected from my.
gentry. MS: corrected from gentre.
285 nyee. MS: e1 inserted above the line.
286 hand. MS: d corrected from e.
287 betwe. MS: bewte. Emendation following A.
300 onely God on hyght. MS: ondly gode a lone. A: onely Godes myght. M: ondly God all-myght.
318 owt. MS: ow. Emendation following A and M.
325 fyve. MS has a struck-out V preceding fyve. Perhaps the scribe decided to spell out the number for the sake of the visual rhyme with lyve; compare with lines 697 and 756.
336 well to sped. MS: to sped well. Rhyming word transposed within the line, following A and M.
337 Lordds. MS: line begins with a large, four-line rubricated L.
wol. MS: wol is followed by a struck-out be.
343—48 The kyngs dawghttyr . . . wase Amyas bold. A places lines 343–45 after lines 346–48, presumably to clarify that sche in line 349 refers to Elyoner, who is named in line 344.
353 lyghtand. MS: lygand. A: al schynand. Emendation following M.
354 trusse. MS: corrected from truste.
357 redy. MS: omitted. Emendation following A.
358 wote. MS: corrected from what.
359 Had. MS: corrected from han byn, with byn almost entirely erased.
gyant. MS: corrected from gyand.
361 gan. MS: line ends with lle on the, struck out. Emendation following H.
366 keys. MS: e inserted above the line.
367 lyons. MS: lyone.
368 Were. MS: wase.
369 On. MS: Vn. Emendation following A.
hym. MS: corrected from hem.
thay. MS: corrected from that.
371 On. MS: Vn. Emendation following A.
thei. MS: i written above the line.
373 wer. MS: ther struck out and wer written above.
382—83 Desonell seyd . . . ase he went. There appears to be a line missing between 382 and 383, presumably relating how Desonell sees Torrent approaching.
390 thee. MS: hym. Emendation following A and M, to accord with thy in line 391.
396 clere. MS: jent. The epithet ladys clere seems likely given the tail-lines in this stanza end in squyerres, ner, and ther, and given the occurrence of the same expression elsewhere in the poem, in lines 259 and 1648. Emendation following A and M.
toke. MS: to. Emendation following M.
402 kyng seyd. MS: kyngs messengere. Emendation following A.
408 Than seyd they that to Gales yede. MS: That they than to Gales yede, with Gales corrected in lighter ink from Calles and yede corrected from went. Emendations following A.
409 hym were. MS: were hym. A emends to Yeftys to take were hem no ned, though given the number of transposed phrases elsewhere in the MS, the transposition of hym were seems like the most likely scribal error. Emendation following M.
410 Verdownys. MS: Downys.
412—13 At Perrown on . . . mot I thee. There appears to be one line missing between these lines. M places the presumed missing line at lines 411–12.
416 Gales. MS: G corrected in lighter ink from C.
427 Bettyr ys non to hold. MS: entire line inserted to the right of the main text.
431 it bold. MS: i told. M emends likewise.
435 mayney. MS: mayne, corrected to mayneyer with lighter ink.
438 I. MS: omitted. Emendation following A and M.
440 ys rest to take. MS: to take ys rest. Rhyming word transposed within the line, following A and M.
451 love. MS: lowe.
461 settyste. MS: settythe. A and M emend likewise.
462 persewyd. MS: prevyd. Emendation following A.
465 Nazareth sent hym me. MS: Portynggalle seyd so mot I thee. Emendation following F.I, as in A and M.
466 hym on thee. MS: of the. Emendation following F.I, as in A and M.
469 they. MS: the. Emendation following F.I, as in M.
went. So MS. F.I: walkyd.
watyrs. So MS. F.I: ryvers.
471 ded were. MS: were ded. Emendation following F.I, as in A and M.
The kyng. So MS. F.I: this lorde.
472 he. MS: hym. Emendation following F.I, as in A and M.
wyst. So MS. F.I: wyst nat.
477 that was. MS: omitted. Emendation following F.I, as in A.
481 lestyned and nere yed. So MS. F.I: came nere and lystened.
484—85 Loo lord come ner and see / Abowght a facon schene. So MS. F.I: Lord it is sent to me / For a faucon shene.
487 that they. MS: they ne. Emendation following F.I, as in A.
489 Maudelayne. MS: Mavdlen. Emendation following F.I: Mavdeleyn, as in A.
498 Hys squyer. MS: Hys squyers. F.II: To his squyer. Emendation following A.
500 byddythe. So MS. F.II: abode.
502 noble. MS: nothere. Emendation following F.II, as in A.
503 And forthe than rod hee. F.II: omitted.
504 Torrent. MS: line begins with a large, five-line rubricated T.
507—09 Berys and apes . . . where they lay. MS: Berrys he sawe stondyng, / And wyld bestes ther goyng, / Gret lyonys ther he fond. Emendation following F.II, as in A.
510 tyght. MS: thyke. Emendation following F.II, as in A and M.
wase. So MS. F.II: is.
511 nere-hand nyght. So MS. F.II: towarde the nyght.
512 By dymmynge. MS: And in the dawnyng. Emendation following F.II, as in A. M: And in the dymmynge.
513—15 Lysten lordes . . . then were they. MS: Harkyn, lords, what I schall sey, / He and hys squyer partyd they, / Carfull they were that Day. Emendation following F.II, as in A.
524 to fyght. MS: to syght. A: to fond. M: syngande.
532 thys. MS: hys. Emendation following A.
533 I take order. MS: I have or take other. A and M: I have take order.
542 clough. MS: colvd. Emendation following M. A: clow.
543 and. MS: an. Emendation following A.
548 swowe. MS, H: swayne. Emendation following A. M: swoghe.
554 it. MS: he. Emendation following A.
558 tellys. MS: tellythe. Emendation following A and M.
595 wyld. MS: wyd. Emendation following A and M.
597 lytyl. MS: lyty. Emendation following A and M.
608—09 That was bothe . . . and ny yed. Three lines appear to be missing from the end of this stanza. Presumably they would have described the squire riding through the forest toward the castle. A likewise locates the missing lines at line 608; M locates them between lines 602 and 603.
609 him. MS: hem. Emendation following A.
624 fre. MS: fer. Emendation following A and M.
630 wot yow. MS: wote w yow. A, H, and M emend likewise.
635 I. MS: omitted. A, H, and M emend likewise.
642 wood. MS: wodd. Emendation following A and H.
658 ron. MS: rond.
662 stere. MS: schere. Emendation following A.
668 All the day. MS: all þe day. A, H, and M emend likewise.
671 he knelyd. MS: knelyd he. Rhyming word transposed within the line, following M.
690 grownd. MS: gownd. A, H, and M emend likewise.
697 he. MS: ii. Emendation following A.
gyantys too. So A, M. MS: gyantys ii too. Compare with lines 325 and 756.
718 he hym ches. MS: sche hym chesys. Emendations following A and M.
738 seyd. MS: omitted. M: sayd. A: quod. H: ase.
739 slyke. MS: sylke. Emendation following M. A, H: sybbe.
742 knyght hys. MS: knyghts. Emendation following A.
748 Fuolls. MS: o inserted above the line.
749—50 That wyt ys . . . lese and more. Three lines appear to be missing from the end of this stanza, perhaps containing Torrent’s further telling of his exploits. A likewise locates the missing lines at line 749; M locates between lines 740 and 741.
752 browght hol whome. So MS, M. A reads ho and interprets this as a scribal error and omits to give: browght whome.
753 The. MS: omitted. Emendation following A.
seyd Be Sen. MS: lords seyd he be sen myhell. M: He! By Sen Myhell! Emendation following A.
Myhell. MS: my her with lle written over the r in lighter ink.
756 prysts fyve. MS: prysts v fyve. Compare with lines 325 and 697.
766 yongest. MS: youngeest.
771 way. MS: omitted. Emendation following A.
775 The kyng. MS: quene to the precedes kyng. Transposition noted and emended in MS. A, H, and M likewise follow the scribal emendation.
781 aske. MS: aseke. A and H emend likewise.
790 hys. MS: omitted. Emendation following A.
794 walls. MS: swalls. Emendation following A and M.
796 All. MS: And. Emendation following A and M.
815 notts. MS: netts.
822 a-mydds. MS: the mydds. Emendation following F.III, as in A.
825 save. MS: sped. Emendation following F.III, as in A and M.
831 for her sake. MS: parmafay. Emendation following F.III, as in A and M.
833 broke. MS: breke. Emendation following F.III, as in A and M.
834 or I go. MS: ar I gan Rage. Emendation following F.III, as in A and M.
835 make me so. MS, M: me make. A: me ma. Emendation following F.III.
838—39 Before xxvii knyghts . . . were Torrents frende. F.III: By vii score of hardy knyghtes. Three lines appear to be missing, presumably detailing the twenty-seven knights assembled to bear witness to the king’s assurances.
839 frende. MS: frendds. Emendation following F.III, as in A.
840 seris gan Torrant sey. So MS. F.III: lordes I you praye.
844 be. MS: omitted. F.III is cropped just at the d of schold. A, H, and M emend likewise.
845 wolde. MS: omitted. Emendation following F.III, as in A.
848 wyght. MS: whyte. Emendation following F.III, which crops the end of the line but still preserves wyg.
849 And he ys bothe strong and bold. F.III: omitted.
851 that waye. MS: ways. Emendation following F.III, as in A.
852 good. MS: goo. A and M emend likewise. F.III: . . . Torente . . .
853 And. MS: leaves room for a large, five-line A, though the rubrication has not been completed. M notes that there is a “minuscule th, visible next to the Chetham’s stamp that occupies the space, [which] indicates that the t in tho (line 855) was to be capitalized” (p. 180n853–57).
856 ryde. MS: ryght. Emendation following A and M.
862 thee. MS: than. Emendation following A.
871 An. MS: And. Emendation following A.
872 kyng dyd dwelle. MS: kyng dwellyd. Emendation following A.
875 tell. MS: tyll. Emendation following A.
878 yt bee ys will. So M. MS: ys will to Bee. Rhyming word transposed within the line.
891—902 The kyng arose . . . . with me wend. Irregularly, the tail lines of this stanza rhyme on two different consonant clusters, leading A to emend wynd (line 899) to leng, and leading M to divide the stanza into two six-line stanzas. The continuity in narration, however, suggests that there are not two half-stanzas missing.
892 knyghts. MS: knygs.
915 kyng. MS: kyngs.
922 seté. MS: final e corrected from a.
924 boke. So MS. F.IV: bokes.
929 the. MS: omitted. Emendation following F.IV, as in A.
have the degré. So F.IV. MS, H, M: haue degré. A emends degre to the gre, which perhaps makes more sense in context and accords with usage elsewhere in the text.
932-33 And yf yt . . . duchyes in londe. MS: omitted. F.IV: And yf it thy wyll be / Two duchyes in honde / I wyll geve her in londe. Following A and M, I have inverted F.IV’s placement of the rhyming words londe and honde, though altering this reading is not absolutely necessary for sense.
935 Gramercy sir sayd he. MS: Gramarcy seyd he thane. Emendation following F.IV, as in A.
940 send. F.IV: brynge.
942-43 Menstrells was . . . myrre songe. So MS. F.IV: Mynstralsy was them amonge / With harpe fedyll and songe.
947 of. MS: on. Emendation following F.IV, as in A.
948 toke. MS: to. Emendation following F.IV, as in A and M.
951 stret. F.V: waye.
nome. MS: none. Emendation following F.V, as in A and M.
952 come. MS: gone. Emendation following F.V, as in A.
954 come ther folks. F.V: he met folke.
955 folloyng. F.V: comynge.
958 yow. MS gives nowe following yow, which I have omitted following F.V, A, and M.
961 countre fare. F.V: londe brode.
962 A large decorative Portyngale has been added in lighter ink in the right-hand margin of this line.
964 lothly. MS: lovely. Unless intentionally ironic, lothly seems most plausible, occurring also in lines 561 and 689. A and H emend likewise. F.V: fendes den.
968 had he slayne. MS: had he slaylne. F.V: he hath slone.
969doth ly. MS: ys. Emendation following F.V, as in A.
970 cyté. MS: knyghthod. Emendation following F.V, as in A.
990 wyn. MS: wynd. Emendation following A and M.
991 Undyr nethe spere and schyld. So MS and M. This line is omitted by A, presumably on the grounds that it disrupts the tail-rhyme form and the twelve-line stanza pattern. Compare with line 1200.
1009 Let thy beytyng and thy ermyght be. So M. MS: Let be thy beytyng and thy ermyght. Rhyming word transposed within the line.
1012 sayd. Written above the line in MS.
1018 he. MS: omitted. Emendation following F.VI, as in A and M.
1019 he. MS: her. Emendation following A and M.
1021 croke. MS: creke. Emendation following F.VI, as in A and M.
gret. So MS. F.VI: longe.
1023 Tyll wone of them ded bee. So MS. F.VI: . . . darste thou come nere.
1025 the thef. MS: theff preceded by a single f. Emendation following A and M.
1029 Neyther by nyght nor by day. MS: blyther be day and be nyght. F.VI: . . . nor by nyght. Emendations following F.VI, as in A.
1030 and sen Awsden. MS: and sen tawsden. F.VI: . . . of god of heuen.
1041 that thef. MS: þat þe theff. Emendation following A.
1055 lede. MS: Rede struck out and lede added in lighter ink.
1064 hys. MS: her. Emendation following A and M.
1073 To Torrent. MS: Torrent said. Emendation following A and M.
1082 it. MS: is.
1084 yt. MS: omitted. Emendation following A.
of my hond. MS: of all my lond. Emendation following A, to maintain the sense of line 1085.
1102 sertaynly. MS: sertayn. Emendation following A and H.
1104 uncouth ray. MS: additional a preceding Ray. Emendation following A.
1116 By this day sevynnyght. This line has been transposed in MS with the following tail-line, Gete thee armes bryght, at line 1119. Emendation following A and M.
1123 On. MS: Of. Emendation following A.
1135 he. MS: i. H: i-telle. Emendation following A and M.
1140 Might he none . . . not in passe. There appears to be three lines missing from the end of this stanza, which may tell of Torrent’s plans to challenge the prince of Aragon.
1142 at. MS: omitted. A and M emend likewise.
1144 theyre glade. So MS and M. A reads glade as an adjective and emends to theyre mete glade. It is possible, however, that glade is a noun (MED glad (n.), sense 4, which cites this line), making emendation unnecessary. Although the MED definition is speculative (“?entertainment, ?merry-making”), theyre glade has the advantage of preserving the extant text and a metrically regular line.
1145 he. MS: they. Emendation following A and M.
1152 Or. MS: omitted. Emendation following A.
her. MS: it. Emendation following A and M.
1200 They spake nether ylle ne good. A omits; compare with line 991.
1213 kyng and knyght. MS: ky cancelled before knyght.
1222 all you. So M. MS: you all. Rhyming word transposed within the line.
1232 ryghts. MS: restys. Emendation following A.
1237 that. MS: than. Emendation following A.
1238 the thoght. MS: omitted. Emendation following A, which must be close to the sense of the passage, though it is one of the more conjectural supplements I have adopted for this edition. M simply gives it; H follows MS.
1250 counsell kyng and knyght. MS: counsell of kyng and knyght. There is clearly no additional subject; rather it is the king and knights who are taking counsel. Emendation following A.
1280 To. MS: line begins with a large, three-line rubricated T.
Torent went. MS: yode, struck out, precedes went.
1285 Stode and beheld on lond. So M. MS: On lond stode and beheld. Rhyming word transposed within the line.
1295—96 Tho Sir Torent . . . hym have slayn. There appears to be one line missing between these lines, presumably elaborating on Torrent’s attack on Cate.
1322 The kyngs.. MS: omitted, but kyngs appears in the following line after other.
1323 And other two or thre. MS: And other kyngs two or thre. Preceding thre is the, blotched out with ink.
1339 Saint. MS: sir. Emendation following A, M.
1340 a marr. So MS, H, M. A: simarr. A posits that simarr is a variant of Middle English chimar, which he glosses as a “cloak” (A, p. 107n47/1338). This word is not otherwise attested in the Middle English canon. See M, p. 202n1338, a note with which I agree.
1366 she. M emends likewise. MS, A, H: he.
1393 Sir. MS: line begins with a large, three-line rubricated S.
1394—95 Full curtesly and . . . have good day. The tail-line (rhyming with fend in line 1397) between these lines appears to be missing, though it does not seem to cause much obstruction to sense.
1395 Desonell. MS: Denosell. A and M emend likewise.
1399 Kepe well my lady fre. So MS, H, and M. A emends to Kepe them well my lady ffre, which may be correct, but I keep the reading from MS because it is possible, considering the following line, that Torrent is meant to refer to Desonell herself rather than the rings.
1419—20 Of the coste . . . were all preste. There appears to be a line missing between these lines, which presumably concerned an approach to the Norwegian coast.
1436 Torrent. MS: Torerent. A, H, and M emend likewise.
1447 My lord was never fleand. So MS. A gives failand for fleand, which would perhaps offer a more conventional reading, but I retain the reading in MS because lines 1448–50 develop the concept of Jesus’ participation in the upcoming battle. See MED flen (v.1), sense 3b: “to desert or depart from (someone), to go away.” A’s failand could be seen as a variant of the same verb. M retains MS reading.
1448 make. MS: made. Emendation following A, H, and M.
1453 bowes. MS: browes. Emendation following A and M.
1462 habyde. So M. MS: have ryde. H: have byde. A: haue kyde.
1466—67 To the chamber . . . hymself lay. MS: line 1467 precedes line 1466. Emendation following A.
1468—69 And fals talis . . . the geaunt abyde. There appears to be three lines missing between these lines. They likely would have described the shipmen’s false account of Torrent’s cowardice, which is elaborated in lines 1469–71.
1478 knyght. MS: ky cancelled before knyght.
1504 bare he. So M. MS: he bare. Rhyming word transposed within the line.
1508—09 The other dragon . . . all his myght. One line appears to be missing here. A likewise locates the missing line here, while M locates it between lines 1507 and 1508.
1518 hyght. MS: hyõe.
1524—25 With towrys hyght . . . an hyghe strete. There appears to be three lines missing here, likely describing the castle in further detail. A likewise locates the missing lines here, while M locates them between lines 1525 and 1526.
1537 not. MS: wot. Emendation following A.
1539 they. MS: thou. Emendation following A.
1555 And let hym bayte on the ground. MS: additional hym preceding on. Emendation following A.
1563 they. MS: omitted. A and M emend likewise.
1569 to. MS: than. Emendation following A.
1575 Quyte thy mede he wyll. MS: He wyll quyte thee thy mede. Rhyming word transposed within the line. A offers something different: Thy mede the quyte he wyll. M offers: Quyte the thy mede he wyll.
1605—06 So evill was . . . hym ayen smate. M locates six missing lines here, although their existence would not significantly affect meaning.
1652 Weraunt. MS: weraumt. A, H, and M emend likewise.
1690 Fore. MS: For. Emendation following A.
1697—98 Fayn he was . . . made noble chere. There appear to be seven lines missing from the middle of this stanza, presumably describing how they dined and the cheer they made. A likewise locates the missing lines at the end of the stanza; M, however, locates one following line 1697, and the other six after line 1700.
1776 hath. MS: hatt. Emendation following A.
1809 Thus the. MS: This. Emendation following F.VII, as in A.
1810 Tyll. MS: omitted. Emendation following F.VII, as in A.
1812 In all poyntes. MS: in poyntes. F.VII: of all poyntes. A likewise combines these variants.
1820 Ayen the law. So MS. F.VII: Agaynst right.
1824 The quene. So MS. F.VII: The queen hir moder.
wexid tho nere wood. So MS. F.VII: was nere wode.
1828 between hem twa. So MS. F.VII: bytwene the children two.
1829 Therin they were wonde. MS: omitted. Supplied by F.VII, as in A and M.
1830 Whan they had shypped that lady yeng. MS: Whan they clepud that lady yeng. Emendation following F.VII, which reads Whan they had shypped that gentyll thynge. A likewise combines these variants, but also emends yeng to ying.
1831 An hunderid fell. F.VII: Anone she fell.
1833—34 Whan that lady . . . dyd she call. Supplied by F.VII, as in A. MS: Downe knelid that lady clere / Ihesu Cryste that come up here.
1835 clene. MS: clere. Emendation following A.
Down knelid that lady clene. F.VII: To defende hir with his honde.
1836—37 Rightfull God . . . on to lende. MS: Jesu Cryste, that com up here / On this strond, as I wenyd. Supplied from F.VII, as in A and M.
1838 my chyldren. MS: we. Emendation following F.VII, as in A.
1839 Knyghtis and ladyes gent. So MS. F.VII: ladyes fayre and gent.
1842 rose ayen the nyght. So MS. F.VII: arose on the myght.
1843 From lond. MS: ffro lond. F.VII: Fro the londe.
1844 Uppon. So MS. F.VII: Into.
1851 woke and. So MS. F.VII: omitted.
1855 man nere hond. So MS. F.VII: man at hande.
1860 Tho. So MS. F.VII: Tyll.
1861 Foules arose and mery. So MS. F.VII: Foules on trees merely.
1863 mowntayn. So MS. F.VII: hyll.
1864 Sone. So MS. F.VII: Where.
1883—84 Carefull of blood . . . no better be. There appears to be six lines missing from this stanza, presumably devoted to elaborating on Desonell’s sorrow. A likewise locates the missing lines here; M locates them after line 1886.
1887 her. M emends likewise. MS, A, H: his.
1892—93 The sorow she . . . no further fare. Six lines seem to be missing from this stanza as well, possibly also devoted to elaborating on Desonell’s sorrow at the abduction of her other child. A likewise locates the missing lines here; M locates three missing lines at lines 1889–90, one at lines 1891–92, and two at lines 1893–94.
1939 sholdist. MS: woldist. Emendation following A.
1954 sett. MS: lett. Emendation following A.
2006 Other be nyght or day. MS, M, H: Other be nyght or forme of day. A: Be nyght and be day.
2020 have. MS: corrected from heue.
2021—22 My children ye . . . . walkid than alone. Three lines seem to be missing from this stanza, perhaps containing further details on Desonell’s surroundings. M likewise locates the missing lines here; A locates them at lines 2018–19.
2027—28 By the yatis . . . a wildernes. Three lines seem to be missing here, perhaps describing why Desonell flees from the hunting party.
2036—37 Thereof she was . . . kyng and knyght. Six lines seem to be missing from this stanza as well, no doubt describing the initial encounter between Desonell and the knights. A and M likewise locate the missing lines here.
2115 Calaber. MS: Cababer. A, H, and M emend likewise.
2118 Colomond. MS: Calomond.
2134 command. MS: comland.
2141 askyd. MS: had. This line makes perfect sense on its own, but the following three lines make it plain that the king is not given the opportunity to take the Eucharist and confess. A emends to wold. M and H preserve MS reading.
2172 The line begins with a large, three-line rubricated O.
On. MS: Off. Emendation following A.
2184 seté. MS: see. A: cité.
2189 say. MS: says. Emendation following A. M emends to storyes say.
2197 third. MS: thrid.
2205—16 There he stode . . . in this contré. MS: lines 2211–16 come before lines 2205–10. Emendation following A and M. Because the sultan’s message to Torrent (lines 2211–16) acknowledges the starved people of the city, suggesting that the description of Torrent besieging the city (lines 2205–10) precedes it, I have followed A and M in reversing the order of these lines.
2211 The soudan. MS: a Soudan. Emendation following A.
2229—34 Sith he buskyd . . . the Sarzins bryght. MS: lines 2232–34 come before lines 2229–31. Because Torrent must first arrive in a new city (Antioch) before he can live there for seven years, I (following A and M) have chosen to reverse the order of these line groupings.
2237—38 Found hym his . . . Jerusalem herd tell. This stanza seems to be missing three lines, which may well describe Leobertus’ martial exploits of which the king of Jerusalem hears at the beginning of the following stanza. A and M likewise locate the missing lines here.
2245 thousand. MS: thousaid. Emendation following A and M.
2246—47 Ageyn Torent for . . . Jerusalem said thus. The end of this stanza also seems to be missing three lines. A and M likewise locate the missing lines here.
2248 Leobertus. MS, M: Liobertious. A: Liobertus.
2255 On. MS: Of. Emendation following A.
2258 Full woo was her that see it myght. MS: it ought. A: Woo was her, that se it myght! M: full woo was that i-dight.
2283 hom. MS: hem. A and M emend likewise.
2285 And in preson. MS: and and in preson. Emendation following A. M gives And an presone.
2301 slee. MS: flee. Emendation following A.
2315 be nyght ne be day. MS: be day ne be nyõt. Rhyming word transposed within the line.
2318 this nyght pray. MS: pray this nyght. Rhyming word transposed within the line.
2359 Feyre. MS: Feyrer.
turnaments. MS: Turments. Emendation following A.
2375 were. So MS. A and M emend to lay in order to complete this stanza’s tail-rhyme scheme.
2405 he. MS: ye. Emendation following A and M.
2417 Quarell. MS: Quarellis. A and M emend likewise.
2438—39 With moche solempnité . . . Nazareth sent me. There appears to be at least three lines missing at the beginning of this stanza, possibly describing the messenger’s audience.
2447 semled. MS: semlend. Emendation following A and M.
2473 fy Gryffon. MS: ffygryffon. M likewise construes as two separate words.
2474 there they yeld. MS: they yeldyd there. Rhyming word transposed within the line. Emendation following A and M.
2477—78 Smertley in the . . . Gryffon yonger were. There appears to be three lines missing here. A likewise locates the missing lines here; M locates them at the end of the stanza, after line 2480.
2480—81 Sir Torent stode . . . said Torent thanne. There may be six lines missing at the beginning of the stanza (see M, p. 245n2475), though this may also be just an idiosyncratic six-line stanza.
2485—86 And hent a . . . hym rode he. These lines are transposed in MS. Emendation following A.
2487 so sore to hym rode. So MS. A: to hym rode so sore. M: rode to hyme so sore.
2488 he bare hym to the ground. So MS. A: he to the ground hym bare. M: to the ground he hyme bare.
2504 on her kne she knelid. So MS. A: knelid on her kne. M: she knelid on her knee.
2523—25 As was dame . . . that doughty ys. This tercet seems to be all that survives of a distinct stanza. The nine missing lines might have further described Desonell’s beauty, provided additional details on the feast, and introduced the two kings mentioned in line 2526. A suggests that only three lines are missing here and combines them with lines 2226–28 to create a “complete” stanza. See M, p. 245n2475, for different stanza divisions, beginning at line 2480 ff.
2537 wonder had they. MS: they had wonder. A: There of they had envye. M: they had ferly.
2544 fader. MS: omitted. Emendation following A.
2562 Sothe. MS: so. Emendation following M.
2590 Al. MS: at. A, H, and M emend likewise.
2604—09 The quene said . . . it so be. MS, M: lines 2607–09 come before lines 2604–06. Emendation following A based on the likelihood that the knight’s enthusiasm stems from the news that Torrent is returning, as opposed to the appearance of unidentified ships, which may well have conventionally elicited dread rather than joy.
2618 grene. MS: kene. Emendation following A.
2621 sene. MS: see. Emendation following M and A.
2623 of. MS: omitted. Emendation following A and M.
2642—43 And sith rejoyse . . . of gret renown. There seems to be three lines missing at the end of this stanza, which may well have described how Torrent accepts the king of Jerusalem’s offer.
2644—45 Torent gave hym . . . Sir knyght. The tail line (rhyming with flood in line 2647) seems to be missing here.
2647 To the Grekys flood. MS: To the Grekys flood I plight. Emendation following A.
2648 Vouch. MS: Wouch.
2656 they yode her way. MS: her way they yode. Rhyming word transposed within the line.
2666—71 Now Jesu Cryst . . . . we shall wend. The text’s final stanza was probably not composed in the standard twelve-line form. Rather, it seems likely that it is an idiosyncratic stanza written as separate from the main narrative and intended to close the romance, in conventional fashion, with a prayer. See also the explanatory note to lines 7; 10.
Provence; (see note)